Summary: This was one of those seasons where there was an unbeatable team, and it was their year. The last time it was this way in MLB was in 2018, when the Red Sox won it. Most of us didn’t know at the time that the Red Sox were using electronic devices to illegally steal signs, so that removes some legitimacy from their title. If they were so great, why did they cheat?
I don’t see any such issues with the Dodgers in 2020. They were clearly the best team, and did it the right way, since after Game 2 against the Padres in the NLDS. They have young pitching & players, so they’ll probably be back. The Rays went as far as they could go on a payroll of $58.3M. You need MUCH more to win it all in this era. Maybe Cash should have stayed with Snell a bit longer, but it felt inevitable that the final outcome would have been the same.
The Tommy Pham-Jake Cronenworth deal to the Padres for Hunter Renfroe was mandated last winter by ownership to stay under $60M in team payroll for 2020. It was a cheap-ass move, and it finally caught up with the Rays in the World Series. They couldn’t score runs, and were always a bat or two short against the Dodgers. Andrew Friedman won this World Series when he acquired Mookie Betts, David Price & Brustar Graterol in the off-season.
Game 4 of the 2020 World Series had the most unbelievable & exciting finish in baseball history. Francisco Cabrera in 1992, pinch-hitting for the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the NLCS is the only thing close, and it wasn’t as amazing as this. Here’s that heart-stopping baseball moment, with the classic call by Sean McDonough.
To be able to quickly & precisely analyze the action, here are a few of my MLB viewing secrets. First, I mute the Fox broadcast because everyone sucks except John Smoltz, and even he was overwhelmed at the end of Game 4. I had the sound on for that, but 95% of the time I’m watching, it’s muted. This takes Joe Buck out-of-play, which always helps, and I’m especially grateful when I see ‘Ken Rosenthal reporting’ on the silent screen.
Secondly, I don’t watch a lot of the game anymore. I have alternate channels for commercial breaks, and often I’ll stick with that instead of going back to the game. I don’t want to watch the Dodgers pile on runs early, I’ve seen enough of that as a Padres fan, so for Game 4 I watched Bullitt (1968), and made the game my alternate channel during commercials. Great movie.
I prefer to have two alternate channels, in case of overlapping commercial breaks. A classic Columbo episode I hadn’t seen before helped during Game 4. If I miss something important in the middle, I can review the highlights & boxscore on the internet. With these tools at my fingertips, the game isn’t such an exhausting & emotional roller coaster. I’m relaxed & in-tune at the end when it’s all the drama, and all the chips are on the table. All this helps a sports blogger comment intelligently on the action. I don’t have the advantage of access, like so many of these flunkies I’ve mentioned, so I have to be A LOT better than them to have an impact.
I thought Dave Roberts managed his bullpen poorly at times, making this series longer that it should have gone. If Brustar Graterol starts the 9th in Game 4, he has to face at least two batters. Having Kenley Jansen ready if Graterol faltered, was the winning manager move for Dave Roberts in Game 4. The Padres had rocked Jansen a few times earlier in the season, and Roberts knew he was shaky. That was a high-leverage situation in which the manager MUST go with his best pitcher. Graterol is the Dodgers’ best reliever, and he had 0.1 IP in Game 4, on 7 pitches.
Rays manager Kevin Cash doesn’t make these types of mistakes because he’s not tied to a high-$$ closer, or sentimental about ‘his guys’ to a point where it clouds his judgment. Cash is perhaps too analytical, and not trusting enough of his guys. Both extremes can get your team beat, and it’s a razor’s edge. Instead of the Dodgers taking a 3-1 lead, and the Series basically over, they put themselves in a dogfight after they gave it away in the 9th.
The final losing nuance was that Kenley Jansen didn’t back-up home plate on the GW play, which makes him fortunate he doesn’t close for the Yankees. West Coast media is far more relaxed & understanding. When you do that for Steinbrenner, he goes directly to the NY media, “If that fat toad can’t get off the mound and back-up home plate, then blah, blah, blah… rant, rant, rant…” In contrast, Dave Roberts quietly never went to Jansen again in the Series, and that was that.
The Rays had a chance after winning that wild & amazing Game 4, but when Manny Margot got nailed trying to steal home in the 4th inning of Game 5, that turned the Series back to the Dodgers. It was a bad play, so don’t believe any of the media hype that excused it as a good attempt. Runners at 1st & 3rd, 2 out, Rays down 4-2, with Kevin Kiermaier at the plate against Kershaw. The upside if Margot makes it is the Rays are still down a run.
It’s the runner on 1st, and potential run at the plate that mattered more in terms of winning the game. Kiermaier is the heart & soul of the Rays, so what Margot is saying is that he doesn’t trust their team leader to do the job. If Margot stays put and Kiermaier homers, it’s 5-4 Rays.
The Rays were REALLY upset with Margot over this, and that’s why he had to say to the media it was 100% his decision. It hurt the team’s chances immeasurably. When it happened, I said to myself, “That’s why AJ Preller traded him. He’s got tools, but comes up short against the Dodgers. Stupid & selfish play.” The Rays committed zero fielding errors in 6 WS games, but that base running error was more than they could afford.
I snoozed on Game 5 shortly after Manny Margot got thrown out trying to steal home. The Dodgers were making the plays & getting all the calls, so I didn’t think the Rays had a chance. The home plate umpire was very generous with Clayton Kershaw’s strike zone as compared to Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow.
I thought Corey Seager was out at second base on his 1st-inning stolen base attempt, even though replay upheld the safe call. That gave the Dodgers what they needed to win easily. East coast bias works against the Rays because Yankees & Red Sox staffers in the league office (& replay booth) despise them much more than the Dodgers.
It’s just as important to know when to give up, as it is to know when to pay attention. This video above at 2:04-05 shows Seager is tagged by Willy Adames just before he reaches second base, which means he’s out. Replay is there is correct that, but instead it upholds an incorrect call– because of human bias.
My alternate channels weren’t so great for Game 5, which was another reason I snoozed. Classic Columbo, ruined by that annoying dopey side-kick jerk Dennis Dugan, who got that part on every great 1970’s TV series– from The Rockford Files to any action show. He married Joyce Van Patten, so I think that explains it. Ghost Whisperer is always muted. I don’t know any of the characters names, I just like to look at Jennifer Love Hewitt.
All this made Game 6 feel like impending doom for Rays fans. Randy Arozarena homered in the 1st to put them up 1-0, and from there they tried to hang on. Trying win 1-0 games against $200M+ payroll teams in the World Series is next-to-impossible. Even when the Rays win, it’s often not an enjoyable experience, more a combination of surprise & relief. They’re amazing to admire & learn about, but painful to root for.
The Rays are locked into their 30-year lease on the Tropicana Dome in St. Petersburg. Tampa won’t build them a new stadium, so that means in 2028 they’ll be the Charlotte Rays. It sucks being a Rays fan for so many reasons.
It was an inexcusable & irresponsible act by Dodgers 3B Justin Turner, after being pulled in the 8th inning for testing coronavirus positive, to rejoin his teammates for celebrations after the game– without a mask [!] on top of that.
Dave Roberts lowering his own mask to spit (over & over) in the Dodgers dugout wasn’t good either. The final lesson is that these athletes (for the most part) haven’t taken this pandemic seriously. They are privileged jocks, so they ignore science because know they won’t have to deal with any of the nasty consequences. I hope there is no more baseball until this pandemic is truly under control.
Ratings Review: The Los Angeles Dodgers-Tampa Bay Rays World Series TV ratings average was 32% below the previous low, which had been the Giants sweep of the Tigers in 2012. The NBA, NHL, and the rest of sports are down too. What explains this?
I watched parts of the NBA Playoffs & Finals, so I can say the basketball was as well-played as I had seen in a long, long time. LeBron James & Jimmy Butler both performed for their respective teams, and it was a good series, more competitive than most had predicted. It was the same with MLB in 2020, all the way through the World Series, the quality of the games were the best I have ever seen.
This means the problem is NOT the athletes. The problem is the COVID pandemic which has wrecked so many lives, to the point where people don’t care about sports the way they used to. The corporate messaging & political virtue-signaling are HUGE turn-offs too. Whenever you read a mainstream article on the internet about the ratings being down for sports, they never tell you why, because they can’t admit they are the problem. One final fact, no one has lower ratings than Trump.
Since it’s so close to the election, I’ll shift towards politics for the conclusion. If you’ve voted, or are planning to vote for Biden because you hate Trump, then you’re wasting your vote. Biden & Trump are the same. They are rich, who represent the rich, and despise all those who work for a living. I’ve read more than a few partisan supporters (on both sides) framing this political position as that of a ‘Russian communist,’ who wants to destroy the American way of life.
That’s nonsense. I’m a baseball fan, as I have proven here, and there is nothing more American than baseball. The truth is capitalism is dead, and we need a revolution. This is a war they started, which revolutionary socialists are going to finish. Read the WSWS, and support them. That my political line.
This Conway/Underwood banner above is what Election 2020 is about to become, a real-life nightmare installment of Netflix’s original series House of Cards. We need a massive intervention of international youth & the working class. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) attacks both Democrats & Republicans as fascists, which is correct. The SEP are the only ones who tell people the truth.
The Socialist Equality Party, which has sections around the world, traces their roots to the founding of the Fourth International in Paris in 1938 by Trotsky, two years before he was murdered by an agent of Stalin in Coyocan, Mexico. Troskyists are historical materialists, and insistent there is objective truth.